What is good prison leadership? The development of a psychological framework for senior prison leadership

Choudhary, Munazzah (2020) What is good prison leadership? The development of a psychological framework for senior prison leadership. (Other thesis), Kingston University, .


Prisons are, in many countries, the most powerful expression of the countries power and England and Wales alone oversees the incarceration of over 80,000 prisoners. The management and oversite of prisons requires high quality leadership. This thesis is comprised of two papers that together provide unique insights into prison leadership. The first paper presents a systematic review of research in which prison leadership has been studied in order to understand how prison leadership is defined. More specifically, to examine what is known about the role of a prison leader, the competencies, duties, knowledge and quality requirements of a prison leader and what impact good prison leadership can have. Of the 4,305 papers identified, only eight papers met the inclusion criteria. No clear definition of prison leadership emerged from the review highlighting an urgent need for further research if there is to be a better understanding for the selection, training and development of prison leaders to manage the complex challenges of leading prisons in the 21st century. The second paper presents a qualitative study, exploring the expectations of prison leadership and the formation of a framework of good prison leadership applicable to all senior prison leaders. 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of unique subject matter experts, all former prison governors comprised of current and previous line managers of governors and senior prison leaders in command of the organisation. Thereby ensuring the framework was informed by the lived experiences of the men and women who have accomplished the role of leading a prison and successfully progressed beyond it. Following an inductive thematic analysis five overarching themes were established using an iterative process. The study proposes an empirical and interwoven psychological framework that consists of individual values, individual behaviours, prison organisational and management tasks, prison as a total institution and political astuteness. This framework moves beyond previous research by proposing a more complex and dynamic approach with interacting components. All five dimensions are proposed to be required for good leadership. The framework describes the expectations of prison leaders for the current realities of today, understanding that the leadership will be both influenced and impacted by external factors. As well as this the findings provide a framework to guide the recruitment, assessment, development and training of prison leaders while also offering important insights for long-term leadership strategy and policy decisions.

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